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The year is almost done and it’s been a good one for tech (and for everything else, at least compared to the Coronavirus fest that was 2021). So what’s been the very best gadget-wise, this year? I’ve put together a list.
Read on for the best phones of 2022, the most essential gadget we all have. Then, there’s productivity tech, sound and vision, health and fitness gadgets, lifestyle tech and travel gadgets. I’ve tried to include the best-in-class winners alongside some items you might not have heard of, or even thought of. And at the end, find out what I think is the Best Gadget of 2022.
The deals highlighted within this post were independently selected by the Contributor and do not contain affiliate links.
Phones and tablets
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
From $1,099 from apple.com
The biggest iPhone is also the best, thanks to all the advanced features it shares with the iPhone 14 Pro—which is better for smaller hands. The Max has longer battery life than its smaller sibling but is otherwise identical but for size, weight and price. The design matches last year’s iPhone 13 Pro, though there’s no longer a SIM card slot in US versions of the iPhone 14 series. And the cut-out at the top of the screen has been replaced with a smaller area which changes according to function. This is the Dynamic Island, and it’s very inviting.
The new iPhones have improved cameras on board, and the main camera now has a 48-megapixel sensor, for the first time on an Apple device. You can really see the difference: photos are detailed and rich, even in low light, and video benefits from a significantly improved image stabilization feature. Battery life is excellent (though the more affordable iPhone 14 Plus just edges it in some situations) and the new deep purple color is a winner.
Best folding phone
Motorola RAZR 22
From $1,090 from amazon.co.uk
Although it’s not on sale in the United States yet, the Motorola RAZR 22 has now reached Europe. It’s terrific, fixing the problems of earlier folders by matching a stronger, more resilient build with a fast processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1) and 50-megapixel main camera.
It looks and feels great, fitting small pockets when folded but offering a 6.7-inch display, the same as the iPhone 14 Pro Max above, when open. This seems a much better use of a folding screen than the bigger folding phones which open from phone to tablet size. The design is striking, and the removal of the chin found on earlier models, and the original RAZR feature phone, is a welcome change.
Huawei Mate 50 Pro
$1,450 from Huawei.com
Like other Huawei smartphones, this one has a sleek, attractive design. It’s still very hard to beat the photographic skills Huawei brings to its smartphones. While some, such as the Google Pixel 7 Pro, below, come close, if you want a camera powerhouse in your pocket, this is your choice. There are three rear cameras here, including one which does something innovative: it has an adjustable aperture so you can manually change the depth of field and, thereby, how much of the image is in sharp focus and how much of the background blurred. This is routine on traditional SLR but unique to smartphones here.
The camera software uses AI to improve results. Huawei uses a particular version of Android that does not include the regular Google Play app store, favouring its own App Gallery instead, which lacks many key apps. There’s no Google Maps, for instance, but the company’s own Petal Maps, crafted jointly with TomTom, is excellent.
Best Android phone
Google Pixel 7 Pro
From $899 from store.google.com Currently reduced to $749
If you’re an Android purist, look no further. Google’s own-brand hardware is its best yet, with unmistakable design notes such as a camera panel that stretches the width of the phone. The camera is better than ever and it has Google’s signature Pixel-exclusive app: Recorder. This is brilliant, whether you’re a journalist recording an interview or anyone else needing to capture the minutes of a meeting, for instance. It records and transcribes in real time, on-device. There’s no bloatware here, just pure Android, which means it gets updates faster than rival phones can manage.
Best ebook reader
Amazon Kindle Scribe
From $339.99 from amazon.com
I found this new large-screen Kindle (it has a 10.2-inch display) huge and heavy when I first picked it up, but I quickly got used to it. The joy of reading on a screen this big is considerable, especially when you add in how restful e-paper is on the eye compared to a backlit tablet. And then there’s the other thing this Kindle does, and it’s a first for Amazon e-readers. You can write on it. It comes with a stylus, which snaps magnetically to the side and doesn’t need charging.
Writing on it is brilliant, feeling much closer to the sensation of pen on paper than the Apple Pencil manages on the iPad, for instance. The software isn’t quite as intuitive as it might be, only allowing you to take notes in separate panels, for instance, if you’re annotating a book, but with more freedoms on a PDF, for instance. Also, it can’t turn your scrawl into printed text in the way the brilliant Scribble app does on the iPad.
But there are all the benefits that Kindles offer, from holding a library of books to weeks-long battery life. If you don’t want to take notes, then the wonderful Oasis or the best-of-all-worlds Paperwhite will suffice.
Apple iPad 10th generation
From $449 from apple.com
For the first time ever, the regular iPad (the one that isn’t a mini, an Air or a Pro) has no Home button on the front. Now Touch ID is mounted in the power button, it means there’s a much bigger screen, 10.9 inches. The overall design has been uprated to match the other iPad models with cliff-edge sides and a move to a USB-C charging port. The processor is mighty fast, so much that for most people the similarly sized iPad Air seems less relevant.
It’s also the first time the regular iPad has 5G connectivity on the cellular versions. It has one feature that beats even the priciest iPad Pro: a front-facing camera that’s mounted in the long edge, not the short, making it better for video conferencing. If you’re an Apple Pencil user, this works with the first-generation, not the better second-gen model, but that’s about the only downside. The price is higher than before but last year’s ninth-generation iPad is still in the range at $329. Even so, this iPad is worth every cent.
Best productivity tech
Apple MacBook Air
From $1,199 from apple.com
The new-design Apple MacBook Air looks tremendous, matching the pricier Pro laptops with its flat lid and sharp edges. The M2 chip inside may not be the quantum leap seen with the move from Intel chips to M1, but it’s definitely faster and easily punchy enough for most users. It has exceptional battery life so you’ll quickly get used to not carrying around a power brick. Though, if you do, it comes with a MagSafe charger—a welcome return for a fan-favorite Apple innovation.
The display is bigger than before, 13.6 inches, but the overall dimensions have hardly changed since the last-gen model, which is still available if you want to save a bit of cash—it’s $999 and up.
Best iPhone accessory
Anker 622 Magnetic Wireless Portable Charger
$59.99 from amazon.com
Rarely does a third-party beat Apple at its own game. But that’s what Anker’s done with this battery that snaps on to the back of an iPhone 12, 13 or 14 series phone and charges it wirelessly. It’s ideal for charging your phone when you’re away from a power source and you don’t even need to connect it by a cable. It has more recharge power than Apple’s own model and a cute kickstand that holds the iPhone at the perfect angle for FaceTime calls or, in landscape orientation, watching video. It comes in a series of attractive colors, too.
Best Apple Watch accessory
Nomad Base One Max MagSafe Charger
$149.95 from nomadgoods.com
Wireless charging pads are great, but the only problem is that since Apple introduced MagSafe magnets to ensure a secure and strong connection, these pads have tended to lift up with you. That changed with Nomad’s handsome, beautifully crafted and, above all, weighty charger. However casually you grab your phone, the pad stays put.
It has a metal chassis, glass charging panel and rubber base so it doesn’t slip and you can choose between a subtly dark carbide or eye-catching silver finish, plus a limited edition gold-colored version. If you have an For the Apple Watch the Base One Max has a charging pad for your smart timepiece, too—just make sure you press the watch firmly into place, especially if it’s an Ultra. Nomad does not supply a charging plug, believing that many of us have more power adapters than we know what to do with. Note that this needs a 30W adapter as a minimum. If you don’t have an Apple Watch, then the Nomad Base One elides the Watch pad and costs $50 less.
Best sound and vision
Best portable TV
$599.99 from samsung.com
So, you want a big-screen TV but you hate the big black rectangle that’s left on your wall when it’s turned off? One solution to this conundrum is a projector and few are as good-looking and convenient as the Samsung Freestyle. It’s light and small, so much that when you see the box you think it must just be for an accessory, not the thing itself.
Put it in place and turn it on and it cleverly adjusts for a surface that’s not level to put a perfectly rectangular image on the wall, which ideally will be white. However, the Freestyle can optimise the color tone to compensate for a colored wall.
If there’s a disappointment, it’s that this image is HD rather than 4K, and it can struggle in terms of brightness, but the scale and simplicity may be impressive enough to overcome this. Built-in speakers deliver decent, multi-directional sound, too. For ultimate portability, you can even connect it to a suitable external battery pack to enjoy al fresco viewing.
Best over-ear headphones
$349.99 from sony.com
The best noise-cancelling headphones can muffle the sound of a jet engine while you’re listening to music airborne, for instance. Sony’s noise-cancellation is the splendid. The company also has a neat approach to what noise-cancelling should be like, saying that the silence you hear should be like a concert hall, in that still moment between movements. That is, alive and present rather than flat and oppressive. It’s something that is better than ever in this latest, fifth, edition of its over-ear headphones.
Even with noise-cancelling off, the audio is improved with better bass thanks to a new internal design. The external design is the biggest change yet for Sony’s headphones and has a sleeker, more elegant look. Smart effects include Speak to Chat. When you start talking, even if it’s only to say, “No, thanks, I’m not hungry, I ate before I boarded,” the headphones automatically pause playback so you can hear the other person. The only downside is you can’t sing along to your favourite track with this feature turned on.
Best in-ear headphones
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
$249 from bose.com
Bose’s aim with its new earbuds is that they should be the best-sounding headphones on the market, offering better sound than any rivals, over-, on- or in-ear. Well, they’re certainly up there. The new Bose QuietComfort II earbuds have rich tone and musicality matched by jaw-dropping noise-cancelling that means you can listen in peace on the noisiest commute, for a start. They are comfortable to wear, even for extended periods, thanks to three sizes of ear tips. The audio is tuned for your unique ears, by a clever set-up procedure where the earbuds make a sound that the built-in microphones listen to and adjust the output accordingly.
Best portable Bluetooth speaker
$179 from sonos.com
This is the Goldilocks speaker: the best balance of light weight, convenience and sound quality. It has Bluetooth on board for greatest compatibility but automatically connects to wi-fi when you’re at home, linking to your other Sonos speakers. It’s light, tough and water-resistant, and is smart enough to know if you’ve stood it up or laid it down, automatically adjusting the audio to suit. The battery lasts 10 hours between charges.
The Sonos Roam responds to voice commands, though if you don’t need that, there’s the Sonos Roam SL which is $20 cheaper and looks and sounds the same, though it doesn’t come in all the funky colors of the pricier model.
Health and fitness
Best health gizmo
From $299 from ouraring.com
The Oura ring is a slim, lightweight and discreet health tracker. It’s made of titanium ring weighs just 0.14 ounces, 4g, and is comfortable enough to be worn 24 hours a day. Inside, it has sensors that touch against your skin. The Oura measures heart rate from the arteries in the finger and has a temperature sensor, too. Every morning it gives you a readiness score, based on how well you slept, even drilling down into the quality of your sleep and night-time heart rate. This is great for athletes who need to know whether they should push themselves in today’s exercise or take it a bit easier.
But it’s just as useful for all of us, for anyone who wants to stay on top of how they’re doing. There are some metrics and insights which require Oura membership, which is free for the first month, then attracts a subscription. There are two designs: Heritage with a distinctive flattish side and the new Horizon which is completely circular but for a discreet dimple on the underside (will your thumbnail repeatedly seek this out for a satisfying tactile experience, or is that just me?).
Best smart scales
Withings Body Comp
$209.95 from withings.com
Withings makes a huge range of smart devices all with health monitoring capabilities, and which all work together thanks to the Withings Health Mate app. The latest bathroom scales not only measure your weight accurately, they can also tell you your fat mass, water mass, visceral fat, bone mass and muscle mass. Then there’s heart rate and vascular age. All of which adds up to a holistic snapshot of your health. The new scales (and the earlier Body Scan scales) offer a new feature: Health+ which has suggestions to change behaviors, and offers missions and exclusive content. It’s a subscription app, but the first 12 months are included.
Best lifestyle tech
Best electric bike
$2,645 from amplerbikes.com
Bicycles with motors aren’t cheating. In fact, they may encourage you to get more exercise, encouraging you to cycle on the days you can’t quite face that hilly commute. Where Estonian brand Ampler does cheat, though, is in hiding the battery, so your pedal-assist looks just like a regular bike. The battery, which helps a rider glide away from traffic lights or uphill with minimum knee stress, is cunningly tucked away inside the bike frame itself. The cabling is also neatly hidden out of sight. It has a range of between 50 and 100km and takes 2 hours 30 minutes to recharge.
There are plenty of bikes in the Ampler range but the Stout is a great all-rounder with its comfortable, alert riding position – you sit pretty much upright. It’s an extremely comfortable ride. Lighting is also built in, and the latest models have advanced anti-theft protection, controlled from a companion smartphone app. There’s also built-in GPS location, in case you forget where you parked. An integrated display shows battery level, range and other details. Choose from forest green or pearl black finishes.
Best cleaning gadget
Dyson V12 Detect Slim Extra
$649.99 from dyson.com
Dyson’s most recent cordless vacuums come with a cool extra: a green laser. No, it’s not so you can take over the world from your evil genius lair, it’s to shine on the tiniest of dust particles and make them visible. There’s also a screen on board which shows you exactly what dirt you’ve collected and the size of the particles. The particular cleaner head revels in the delightful name of Laser Slim Fluffy.
As the name of the cleaner also suggests, it’s slim and lightweight, and can run for up to 60 minutes (less if you turn it up to the max). The V12 Detect Slim Extra is a limited edition, with three more accessories than the regular V12 Detect Slim. The Extra also comes in a cool colorway, Prussian Blue. Both sell for $649.99 and currently each has $150 off.
Best clothing gadget
Philips Azure Elite iron
$178 (£148) at philips.co.uk
Philips makes sensational steam irons and the Azure Elite is the top of the excellent Azure range. It includes something called OptimalTEMP technology which basically means you never have to set the temperature of the iron, it does it automatically, with no fear of you burning or scorching the fabric, whatever it is. It also claims that the steam control is also intelligent, ensuring just the right amount of steam is released. It heats up fast and has a steam boost to get rid of creases. Hard to beat.
Allbirds Wool Runners
From $110 from allbirds.com
These are literally the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn, and they earn their place in this round-up for that. They’re smart, not because there’s some electrical capability—don’t worry, there’s not— but because they’re made from remarkable materials. Allbirds have long used clever tech to provide light, flexible and highly appealing footwear.
The company created its own material, SweetFoam, which is used in the shoes’ soles and comes from sugarcane. And shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles. There’s recycled nylon in some products and TrinoXO in others, which contains chitosan, made from crab shells while the insole is made from merino wool and castor bean oil. Wear them and you’ll feel like you’re walking on clouds.
Best reading glasses
From $26.95 from thinoptics.com
Taking reading glasses in your carry-on is easy enough, but how about a pair of specs that will slide into any pocket so you barely notice them? ThinOptics lives up to its name with a series of impossibly slim glasses and readers. The readers sit comfortably on your nose like modern pince-nez and then fold up into a container so small and flat it can stick to the back of your smartphone.
Then there are glasses with arms and all, which also manage to be so thin that the case is just 0.16 inches (4mm) thick. The handsome Brooklyn frames come in reading strengths +1.0, +1.5, +2.0 and +2.5 and cost $49.95 including the slim Milano case. You could also choose a blue light blocker version which additionally comes with no magnification as well as the other strengths. Right now, most of the site has 40% off.
Gadget of the year 2022
Apple AirPods Pro second generation
$249 from apple.com
The latest version of AirPods Pro is, no surprise, better than the earlier version. What’s more surprising is that the new earbuds turn out to about the best you can buy. The already-excellent noise-cancelling has been improved, making it best-in-class (though Bose matches it in most ways). Where is excels is in adaptive noise-cancelling for different situations, so that you can hear the outside world when you need to but the harsher sounds like traffic are audible but not as unpleasant.
It also has personalized audio— your iPhone camera can look at the shape of your ear and evaluate what sounds you hear best, adjusting the output to suit. Battery life is also improved and the case, which includes a loop for a lanyard for the first time, can also make a sound to help you find it when it goes missing using the Apple Find My app. The new AirPods Pro are glorious and have been my constant companion since the day they were announced.